Recent advances in colloidal gold nanoparticle research have led to atomically precise nanoparticles. A series of magic-sized Aun(SR)m (where, SR = thiolate ligand) nanoparticles have been created, at least in the ultrasmall size range (1–3 nm). More importantly, significant progress has been attained in determining the total structures (metal core plus surface ligands) of size-specific Aun(SR)m nanoparticles, ranging from Au18(SR)14 to Au133(SR)52. New types of structures have been discovered, and structural isomization has been revealed for the first time. Such ultrasmall nanoparticles exhibit interesting electronic and optical properties with clear manifestations of strong quantum size effects. Correlation of the properties with structures offers deep understanding of some fundamental issues of colloidal gold nanoparticles, such as the chirality, growth patterns and structural stability. These well-defined nanoparticles also hold great potential in catalysis, energy conversion, optics, and sensing applications.
Rongchao Jin received his B.S. in Chemical Physics from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in 1995, and M.S. in Physical Chemistry/Catalysis from Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1998, and Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University in 2003. In his PhD work, he worked with Prof Chad A. Mirkin on noble metal nanocrystal synthesis, optical properties, and biological applications. After his Ph.D., he worked at the University of Chicago as a Research Associate with Prof Norbert F. Scherer and studied femtosecond laser excited second harmonic generation (SHG) from single metal nanoparticles. In the fall of 2006, he joined the Chemistry faculty of Carnegie Mellon University and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012 and Full Professor in 2015. His current research interests are atomically precise nanoparticles, optics of nanoparticles, and catalysis.